There was an uncommon barking of the dogs as the Moravian missionaries at New Gnadenhutten sat eating their evening meal. It was the evening of November 24, 1755. Brother Senseman rose from the table to investigate the commotion. Several others followed him to the door, which he now opened. A shot rang out and the mssionaries could see several warriors with their weapons pointed. More shots and Martin Nitschmann was instantly killed. After barracking themselves in a garret, the missionaries smelled smoke. The warriors had set the house on fire. Four people jumped from a window as flames engulfed them, yet by the grace of God three survived. The fourth died by the tomahawk and was scalped. Houses, stables, and barns were burned. Brother Senseman, who had opened the door, witnessed his wife burn to death. Eleven people died in this attack: Seven men, three women, and a fifteen month old child.
In 1746 the Mahican converts who had been expelled from Shekomeko, N.Y. and Pochgargoch, Connecticut, lived in the newly built town of Gnadenhutten on Mahoning Creek, not far from Bethlehem, Pa. This town had been prepared for them by the Moravian missionaries. The population of Mahicans was joined by other Delaware converts and soon their numbers were over 500. In 1754 they moved their dwellings and built a new chapel on the north side of the Lehigh River where they all farmed a parcel of land. The missionaries also built their houses there and the settlement was known as New Gnadenhutten.
The Shawnee and Delaware (Lenape) tribes on the Susquehanna had given up their allegiance to the English and allied themselves with the French. They were upset that their Delaware kinsman were living in Moravian settlements and would impeded their attempts to attack the White population in the region. The hostile tribes began to instigate having the Moravian converts come and join them on the Susquehanna, but these attempts failed.
A FATAL DECISION
Giving up on trying to get the Christian Moravian converts to come and reside with them, the hostile tribes in the French interest began attacking farms and settlements near the Lehigh River and Bethlehem. The inhabitants fled and they advised the Moravian missionaries to do the same. After meeting together, the missionaries decided it was by divine province that they have built their settlement, and they would have no need to leave. They would be protected.
Their decision proved fatal. The attack and murders of the eleven was carried out by a war captain, Captain Jacobus of the Delaware tribe.
In the town of Weisport, Pa., up on the hill there is a cemetery in which the eleven Moravian martyrs were buried, and a stone slab with their names inscribed on it is placed over their grave sight.